Turkey pays final respects to soldiers killed in Hakkari amid grief
A military funeral was held in Van for the eight soldiers killed in the PKK attack in Dağlıca, attended by top state officials. The remains of the slain soldiers were sent to their hometowns for burial after the service. (Photo: AA)
Funeral services were held on Wednesday in the hometowns of soldiers who were killed on Tuesday in a terrorist attack on a military outpost in Dağlıca, Hakkari province, after a military funeral ceremony held in the eastern province of Van with the attendance of top state officials.
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) members crossed the border with Iraq and attacked the Yeşiltaş Military Outpost in Dağlıca a town in Hakkari's Yüksekova district, on Tuesday, leaving eight soldiers dead. Turkish troops immediately responded to the attack with heavy fire and killed 10 PKK terrorists. Ten others were killed on Tuesday in the ensuing clashes and four on Wednesday, bringing the total number of terrorists killed after Tuesday's attack to 24. In addition, a number of PKK militants have surrendered to security units.
Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel was unable to hold back tears during the ceremony.
The official commemorative ceremony for the eight soldiers began early on Wednesday at a military base in Van, with the attendance of Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin, Hakkari Governor Orhan Alimoğlu, Van Deputy Governor Atay Uslu, Land Forces Commander Gen. Hayri Kıvrıkoğlu, Gendarmerie Forces Commander Gen. Bekir Kalyoncu and National Police Department Chief Mehmet Kılıçlar. The families of the soldiers were also present at the ceremony.
After Van Mufti Nimetullah Arvas led prayers for the slain soldiers, the bodies of the eight men were sent to their hometowns for burial.
Following the official ceremony, Gen. Özel, Gen. Kıvrıkoğlu and Gen. Kalyoncu as well as National Police Chief Kılıçlar and Minister Şahin visited the wounded soldiers at the Van Research and Training Hospital and the Van Yüzüncü Yıl University Hospital.
There was grief, anger and tears at all the funeral ceremonies held on Wednesday in various provinces across Turkey.
Pvt. Samet Bütün was laid to rest in Selçuklu, a district of Konya province. Bütün's family was grief-stricken on Tuesday morning when they were informed of the death of their son, with many relatives flocking to Bütün's house to offer their condolences. People shouted slogans denouncing terrorism during the funeral. Master Sgt. Ali Gümüş was also buried in Konya. Gümüş had been preparing to marry on July 1, his relatives told news agencies.
Pvt. Umut Bulut, another victim of Tuesday's attack, was buried in his hometown of Samsun following funeral prayers at the Samsun Büyük Mosque. Samsun Governor Hüseyin Aksoy, Samsun Mayor Yusuf Ziya Yılmaz, many military officials and Samsun deputies were among the attendees at Bulut's funeral. Many among the crowd of people that attended Bulut's funeral could not hold back tears when they saw the 9-month-old son of the slain soldier.
The remains of two other soldiers who were killed in the deadly attack, Pvt. Ali Yasin Erosmanoğlu and Pvt. Yaşar Doymuş, were taken to Trabzon by military helicopters. Doymuş's flag-draped coffin was taken to Tirebolu, a district of Giresun province, where he was laid to rest amid the tears of grieving relatives following the funeral prayer. Erosmanoğlu's family also bid farewell to their son after prayers at the İskenderpaşa Mosque in Trabzon.
The family of slain Cpl. Cahit Kılıç was yet another family mourning the death of their son in Hani, a district of Diyarbakır province. His mother, Hasret Kılıç, burst into tears as she recited elegies in Zaza, a language related to Kurdish. The relatives of the slain soldier embraced his coffin and shed tears during the funeral prayer. Diyarbakır Governor Mustafa Toprak, Diyarbakır Provincial Gendarmerie Commander Capt. Mustafa Erdem, Diyarbakır Police Chief Mustafa Sağlam and many deputies attended Kılıç's funeral.
Cpl. İsa Sayın, yet another victim of Tuesday's heinous attack, was buried in the southern province of Mersin after prayers at the Muğdat Mosque. The family of the remaining fallen soldier, Mustafa Türkmen, bid farewell to the soldier on Wednesday in the western province of Kütahya.
Meanwhile, President Abdullah Gül said clashes in Hakkari are not “coincidence” and that they are somehow a reflection of developments in the region.
Gül also vowed that there won’t be compromise to terrorism and peace, security, stability and authority of the state will prevail in every corner of Turkey.
Turkish president said it is impossible to move forward with terrorism and it is a mistake to think that the PKK could force Turkey into submission through terrorism.
Gül added that there is a need to distinguish between Kurdish issue and the problem of terrorism.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also voiced similar remarks on Tuesday in which he said that his government will end terrorism sooner or later.
Erdoğan ruled out on Tuesday “timing” the fight against terrorism and said the government will pursue the struggle until the end. "We have never regarded terrorism as a matter of negotiation with anybody, and we will never do so. The only thing to do is for terrorists to lay down their arms," Erdoğan told reporters in Mexico, where he is attending the G-20 Summit. He added, "We will continue our struggle until the end, and, sooner or later, we will succeed in our fight against terror."
Tuesday's attack came amid efforts by the government to reconcile with the Kurdish minority by granting them more cultural rights.
The PKK is fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey. Tens of thousands have died since the conflict began in 1984. The PKK uses northern Iraq as a base from which to launch attacks on Turkish troops.